'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

August Eruption - Tongariro. Background.


It was announced yesterday that scientists found no traces of obsidian (volcanic glass) in the ash from the recent Tongariro (Tong-gar-ree-ror) eruption.  This means that magma wasn't involved in the eruption and so it's is not likely to explode out of this mountain... at least anytime soon.  A lava eruption would be a very significant event.
So that's the good news. One fellow who lives close to the mountain said that he thought it was just like a giant who had woken up, farted and gone back to sleep again.

Some of the tracks around the mountain are to be re-opened this morning.

However the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Northern Circuit tracks are still considered too dangerous - mostly because the ash has blocked some streams and caused rainwater to back up behind the blockages into small lakes.  If these ash dams let go suddenly, they will sweep over the tracks in places, and that could wash trampers and/ or sections of track away.  When it is considered safe to walk, there will be some interesting new views from some spots as you will now be able to see new steam vents.

Ash acts as a temporary dam to rainwater on Mount Tongariro.
New steam vents have developed on the north side of the mountain.

The Ketetahi hut, a much bigger building than the little emergency shelter I saw in 1981, is out of bounds too, for the meantime.  It has been damaged by big rocks that were ejected from the volcano.  One rock went right through the roof, two bunk beds, the wooden floor, and is now embedded in the soil under the hut!  The other three huts in the area are also closed.

Large rocks ejected during the eruption have damaged
 the roof and interior of the Ketetahi hut.
New steam vent - Mount Tongariro.

So, in summary, it appears it was all a bit like a small tantrum with some toys thrown out of the cot, plus some pooey smells that reached as far as Hawkes Bay to the east, and Wellington in the south.

Despite the findings,  no-one can be completely sure what Tongariro will do next, and here is one blogger who's not in a hurry to reach for the tramping boots to go and see.

Tussocks, hardy shrubs and stony soils characterise the central North Island Volcanic Plateau.


  1. fascinating stuff.... I'm sure there will be plenty of people who will be eager to get back there, and in the not so distant future there will be all manner of new photos and information coming out of there. Just remember curiosity might have landed on mars recently, but it may also have landed on the inquisitive cat!

    1. I'm sure you're right AF. Tourism companies are already keen to announce all the great new things that people will be able to see when they start walking the tracks again - and disparaging of 'scare-mongering headlines'. Ha.

  2. Your writing at its understatedly amusing best, Katherine. I loved it. The problem with farts is, of course, that once they've started.....

    1. Speak for yourself Geeb. I couldn't possibly comment. As a lady, I never fart.

  3. I understand that a Syrian couple were honeymooning in the Ketetahi hut when the rock went through the roof. "That f---ing Assad!" yelled the groom as the bride stirred from her slumbers believing that The Earth really had moved for her.
    I hope you're right that Tongariro was simply passing wind.

  4. Hmmm, unlikely. (said in a Seven of Nine voice).